How infomediation platforms took over the news: A longitudinal perspective

Nikos Smyrnaios, Franck Rebillard


This article considers the question of the increasing power of the internet industry over online news media. Having closely observed the ever-changing relations between these two types of actors over several years in France, we propose a longitudinal perspective on the subject that draws upon the political economy of communication. We base our analysis on the notion of infomediation, as opposed to the more widely used concept of platformization, because the former term better apprehends the different dimensions of this complex phenomenon. In total, 51 interviews carried out between 2003 and 2016 with publishers and individuals within internet firms have been re-examined for the purposes of this research. This empirical material sustains our main hypothesis, namely that the relations between news publishers and infomediaries are becoming more integrative but also more asymmetric. We claim that this situation is distinct from the previous phase of coopetition, where relations between infomediaries and news producers were more distant yet characterized at the same time by competition and cooperation. The current configuration can be understood as involving a collusion of interests and a dilution of the media into distribution platforms.

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